After nearly a year of construction snafus and missed deadlines, the Hay River Fire Department has moved into its new digs.
“I’m so happy to be in this fire hall,” said Fire Chief Ross Potter. “It’s just really great to finally be in here.”
The new fire hall, just across the parking lot from the old one, has enabled the department to consolidate most of its vehicles under one roof and, in so doing, improve response times.
“We can be faster with highway rescues because we don’t have to wait 15 to 30 minutes to get the tanker and other vehicles over from Old Town,” said Potter. “It just made sense to keep everything in the same place, in New Town.”
The old fire hall had room for six vehicles, but it was a tight squeeze. Three vehicles fit in the Old Town facility but again, with little room for moving around. Potter even recounted having to walk across the bumper of one of the trucks to get across the bay. When asked about the addition of an exhaust venting system to the new building, Potter explained that the fumes from the trucks had no where to go in the old one.
Despite the new hall being equipped to hold 10 vehicles in five bays comfortably, Potter has expressed an interest in retaining the use of the hall in Old Town to house the department’s mass-casualty trailer and containers of foam used in suppressing fires. He said although the new hall was much larger than the old one, it had been scaled down from the original plans and as such can’t fit everything.
But the firefighters seem more than happy with the facility.
“The best thing is just all the space we now have,” said Joe Robertson. “It’s just great.”
Firefighter Wyatt Scheller agreed, and added that having everything under one roof was a significant improvement as well.
The wait for the new hall was much longer than the construction phase, according to Potter, who once again expressed how happy he was to be settling into the new building.
“It’s been more than 15 years since they started talking about getting a new hall,” he said. “We almost got there a couple of times, but over the last few years, it all came together.”